French Pastry Fundamentals and Recruiting

I’ve always loved making cookies. It’s fun, it’s easy, and you always wind up with a delicious treat when you’re done. Last year, I was in a discount bookstore (because I can’t ever just walk past one) and found a cookbook that really broke down the science behind baking. It was interesting to read from just that informational perspective, but it also re-ignited my interest in making cookies and other treats. I decided I was going to try some new recipes and techniques to see what happened.

Fast forward to January of this year, when I received a Masterclass subscription and an assignment to pick a course and share how it relates back to what we do here at Binc. I chose Dominique Ansel Teaches French Pastry Fundamentals. I figured I’d learn even more about baking and it wouldn’t be too difficult to tie back to recruiting, right? After watching the course, testing some recipes, and thinking about my work, I pulled out three main reflections:

  1. How we use “mise en place”

  2. Why tempering is so important

  3. The fun of flavors

Mise en place

Mise en place is a French term meaning "putting in place" or "everything in its place." It’s a common term in the kitchen and is used to refer to getting organized and having everything prepped before you start cooking (among other things). It saves you time and makes everything accessible when you need it.

At Binc, we’re dropped into all sorts of different client environments. There is often a sense of urgency and we don’t really have time to waste. After years of learning from our successes and failures, we’ve developed a number of resources to help us get “everything in its place” before we even begin a new project. We’ve got checklists, processes, meetings meant to guide the transition of information, logistics setup, and internal support for the project. When done well, the project on-boarding process gets everything out on the table ready for us to start recruiting. By investing that time up front, we’re able to save time in the long run because we don’t have to “run back to the fridge” for something we forgot.


Tempering is a cooking technique in which you gradually raise the temperature of a cold or room-temperature ingredient by adding small amounts of a hot liquid, to prevent the cold ingredient from cooking too quickly or too much. This is especially important in making pastry cream because eggs are involved. If you heat the eggs too quickly, you’re going to get scrambled eggs instead of a nice smooth cream.

This might feel like more of a stretch than mise en place, but tempering is definitely related to what we do here at Binc. Our most successful projects are those where a true partnership is formed between us and our clients. To have a true partnership, there needs to be trust, and trust is one of those tricky things that can be hard to earn and easy to lose. If you move too quickly - or to follow the metaphor, heat things up too fast - you run the risk of missing something, jumbling something up, or “scrambling some eggs”. We teach our recruiters how important it is to build relationships with clients and candidates. We advise them to resist the urge to jump in too quickly, even when our goal is to hire quickly. A slow and steady integration to a client is much better than barging in on day one with an agenda. We want to heat up together, in a partnership with our clients, so we don’t risk burning or scrambling our eggs.


The last reflection that popped up was around flavoring. Sticking with the pastry cream we just talked about, we first learned the base recipe and then discussed different ways to infuse flavors like cinnamon, vanilla, or hazelnut into the cream. The recipe itself doesn’t really change, but the flavor and experience for the eater can be drastically different.

This is a great analogy for how we teach recruiting at Binc. Authenticity is one of our values and we believe the best recruiters are the ones true to themselves, the ones who bring their whole selves to the table. We can teach the fundamentals of recruiting like what questions to ask during a recruiter screen, how to prepare candidates for interviews, or closing techniques. But if a recruiter reads from a script candidates and clients can tell. It doesn’t feel great for anyone and it can create walls. It makes the whole experience transactional and that’s not what we want. Finding a new job or a new coworker should be exciting and fun for both parties. It’s the start of something new, not just a simple transaction. At Binc, we teach the base recipes of recruiting, but we also encourage our team to add their favorite flavors to the recipes. When Bincers able to bring their own flair to the process they enjoy the work more and see better results.

While on the surface baking and recruiting have little in common, they are surprisingly similar. Like a lot of things in life common themes seem to pop up even when you don’t expect them. If you open your eyes just a little bit wider you might start to see your own surprising overlaps.

And before we go … here’s a photo of a delicious chocolate/chocolate cake with some spring plants!

Nancy Wood